February 11, 2011
The opening of sips Kafe seems to have created some talk among students on campus. The newest coffee shop addition in Shawnee is located downtown on Main Street and has attracted several students since its opening January 4 this year.
Brad and Al Carter are the owners of the small shop. Brad graduated OBU in 2004 with a degree in Philosophy and Biblical Studies and his wife Al Carter graduated OBU in 2005 with a degree in Marriage and Family/Counseling. They began demolition on the old building Jan. 3, 2010. One year and one day later the store opened.
During demolition of the aging building downtown, Brad decided to salvage the wood and windows from the original building; they stripped, gutted and created things brand new. With the wood they saved the Carters created the tables and chairs, counters, wood framing, and other things that currently reside in the new shop.
With a fresh coat of paint and lots of work, the vacant building quickly turned into a cute little coffee shop. There is still work to be done with decorating and putting up a sign for business, but the atmosphere is perfect for an afternoon cup of joe.
The menu has a very affordable selection of food and drink including a lunch menu full of deli sandwiches, soups, grinders and salads. Nothing on the food menu is above $6.50, making this a very affordable and comfortable place for any college student to experience. The drink selection ranges from an average cup of coffee, smoothies, espressos and iced drinks. Already a very impressive reputation among the local community already, sips Kafe is active in supporting other local businesses.
All of the bread used comes from a local bakery in Meeker and other food items used come from Harvest Foods. All coffee products come from Elemental Coffee Roasters, based out of Oklahoma City. Not only does sips Kafe get the fresh coffee from Elemental Coffee Roasters, but it is roasted weekly, so that nothing served is more than one week old since the day it was roasted.
With a staff of 14, Carter says customer service is an important part of his mission.
“We believe in high quality customer service just as much as ingredients,” Carter said.
Employee Brad Olson, a 2008 Biblical Languages graduate of OBU, commented about the vision of sips Kafe among the Shawnee community.
“The big vision of sips Kafe is to have a relaxed place for people to come enjoy themselves, have open mic nights two or three nights a week, open poetry readings, and bring in some local artists and bands to come play weekend nights on a rotation basis,” Olson said.
“We want to build and foster the spirit of Shawnee in this coffee shop,” Carter said. “We saw the potential to have a great community venue in Shawnee.”
They also have hopeful plans to possibly use Sunday evenings as a time for people to rent the space out and have invitation only, private parties.
With a big emphasis on the community of Shawnee, the marketing efforts have spread out to a diverse outlet within the community.
Information can be found in the Shawnee Outlook magazine, the website, (www.project114ok.com) and the Facebook (Project 114) and Twitter (@sipskafe) pages. One of the biggest influences on the success of a new business is word of mouth, which has been a successful tactic on the OBU campus. Many students have gone to experience the new coffee shop.
Some have spent time doing homework or just catching up with a friend. The coffee shop offers free wi-fi for anyone wishing to use it.
Senior Cross-Cultural Ministry student Ashley Wyatt said, “I heard about it last semester during finals week from a girl who was applying to work there. I read online that it was going to open January 3 so I’ve pretty much been obsessed since then. I’ve been waiting for someone to open up a coffee shop other than Starbucks in Shawnee, so I was really excited.”
Olson said that their expectations have not only been met, but have been exceeded and are very happy with the way things have turned out thus far.
Olson said, “Shawnee is not a bad place to own a local business. There’s not a lot going on downtown so this is a great place to bring a little fun back into downtown Shawnee.”
sips Kafe is open Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m and Sundays 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
“The atmosphere is really fun and relaxed and that people that work there and the owners are great too,” Wyatt said. “It’s a great place to study and hang out.”